Snapshots of a small town: Theater in a Crowded Java Joint (fiction)

2nd snapshot in the small town series

I sat at the small table nestled amongst coolers and empty crates. Not an ideal spot but one that gave me the privacy I was looking for. I needed to prepare what I was going to talk about in class this week. What words of wisdom I was going to bestow on a small group of eager minds. Cultural anthropology was an unexpected passion for me. One which I discovered late in my doctoral program.

I was enjoying the hustle and bustle of a morning at the coffee shop. People sat outside and enjoyed talking, working, and drinking too expensive coffees and teas. It was a study in cultural anthropology itself. I watched as Joan in her loose dress and straw hat flitted between tables greeting friends and strangers alike. I could not help but smile as Joan came to a nearby table and struck up a conversation with Richard and a friend of his who she did not know.

As I listened to my neighbors, my thoughts began drifting. I needed to contact Him. I did not want to contact Him but I was having trouble figuring out a way around it.

“Felicia? Is that you? Hey! It’s so good to see you,” said an exuberant voice breaking me out of my consuming thoughts. I managed a smile and took in the ever sunny Richard making his way toward me. His friend had since left and now he was pulling a chair out at my little corner table. “What brings you here?”

“Just preparing lessons for my summer class – race and racism. A bit of a heavy topic for a summer class but I think I can do it justice. How about you? What are you up to?” I replied struggling to find words to say.

“Just enjoying the day and the company of people I haven’t talked to in ages. It’s such a beautiful day, don’t you think?”

I nodded unable to find the words for small chat. My thoughts wandered to my ex-husband again and then Richard pulled my attention back to him and to the world around us.

“Looks like something is weighing heavy on your mind. Everything ok?” Richard asked concerned.

“Just the topic of my class. It has me thinking about the world and how sometimes it seems like we, as a society, are making all the wrong choices for the right reasons. I don’t know. What would I know about it anyway.”

Richard chuckled, “Well, if not you, then who does know about it? You’re the professor after all.”

A million responses went through my head along with public opinion to each, and I simply shrugged my shoulders.

“Well, I let you back to your thoughts. I just wanted to stop by and say hi. Have a nice day!” Richard said with a knowing look in his eyes as he got up and pushed his chair back in. I smiled reservedly at him but took no time in returning to my thoughts.

Was it talking to him that was the problem or the possibility of speaking to her. I knew that I shouldn’t be mad at her, he was my husband – it was his bad decision that I had to get over. Get over it and move on – that’s what everyone – and I mean everyone – had been telling me.